QLD brew might surprise southern coffee snobs
Anyone reading David Southwell’s diatribe on The Punch last week could have been forgiven for thinking the whole of Queensland is a desert devoid of decent espresso.
Certainly the southern blogger successfully whipped up a froth of discontent amongst the state’s caffeinistas with his comments.
The bitterness caused is directed not at Southwell but at anyone who feels the need to take cheap shots at a slice of Australia that’s brewing up micro-roasteries and specialty coffee houses faster than a Mini Mazzer spews forth espresso-ready beans.
Southwell and his Italio-Melbourne wife who’s “not a coffee snob (clearly not, David, if she frequents Starbucks) then went on to draw a barista blank on the Gold Coast, despite finding a suitably grungy café complete with a lip pierced ‘Gothboy’ pulling shots.
“The concoction had the same sickly slightly sweet but charred taste of tortured beans we had become accustomed to,” wrote Southwell.
John Ronchi, owner of Fortitude Valleys Campos Coffee, voted top café in Australia by the Lifestyle Channel’s public-voted I Love Food Awards is unconvinced. He says its a clear case of beans-envy.
“Melbourne and Sydney are sooking because of people like Phil di Bella, the fastest growing coffee company in Australia and Merlo, the oldest established roasters in Australia. And we’ve got a better climate,’’ says Ronchi, an industry veteran of more than 15 years.
Barista Tim Adams, of Pioneer Coffee in Yandina on the Sunshine Coast agrees. “The wave is definitely moving this way,” he says.
Earlier this year, Adams went head to head with a barista from New South Wales and three from Victoria to scoop the title of barista champion of Australia at the national titles.
“Melbourne was first with the boutique specialty coffee roasters so they’ve had a head start but Queenslanders have an equal appreciation of specialty coffee and the barista craft _ plus its a good spot to live - there’s lots of Melbourne guys moving up here.’’ says Adams.
“That the national champion is based on the Sunshine Coast has to say something about how the knowledge is pushing through.”
If Southwell wants to check just how far the coffee culture has percolated in Queensland I’d warmly invite him to join me for a hand-thrown, Japanese ceramic cup of PNG single origin at Kelvin Grove’s Coffee Laboratory, one morning. We can sip our macchiatos amongst owner Troy Daly’s collection of antique and modern roasting kit _ the largest in Australia.
The beauty of Coffee Laboratory is that it isn’t some flashy try-hard city spot. It’s just a low-key, labourers café located on an industrial estate where half the customers sport florescent orange road-worker gear.
If Southwell is worried about keeping topped up on the journey back home he can pick up a quart of green beans and roast his own.
Queensland, beautiful one day, perfectly caffeinated the next.
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